Don’t tell Chris Bradley that you can’t fight City Hall — or the U.S. Postal Service. This spring the president of bedding cataloger Cuddledown of Maine formed the Maine Postal Reform Committee (MPRC), a group representing 20 paper mills, commercial printers, lettershops, and catalogers, including L.L. Bean, Sturbridge Yankee Workshop, and Planet Dog. The group’s goal: to enlist the aid of legislators in reforming the USPS.
The committee first met with Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME) in April to show him how many people the member companies employed and present case studies of how postal hikes have hurt the businesses. The group met with Allen again in May, as well as with Denise Wilson, a staff member of the House Government Reform Committee, to discuss what steps the group and the congressman could take to influence postal reform in tandem.
“Postal rates should not be increasing well beyond inflation as they have been,” Bradley says. “When we put more money into postage, we cannot pass that expense on to customers and remain competitive.” Mailers forced to trim expenses often have to cut staff, and that’s bad news for the individual workers and the economy at large. At Cuddledown alone, the postal rate hikes in the past 18 months forced his company to cut its work force from 90 employees to 80. The cataloger, which mails 10 million books a year, spends about $3 million on postage annually. Another 8% increase would increase the mailer’s postage bill by $240,000, which could translate to the loss of eight $30,000-a-year jobs.
Cuddledown has also kept circulation flat due to increased postal rates. Allen’s chief of staff, Jackie Potter, admits that such circulation cuts “will ultimately hurt the USPS. It serves everyone’s interest to find a way for catalogers to mail more.” Allen’s congressional district represents more than 22,000 jobs and more than $3 billion in revenue.
The MPRC is supporting the efforts of Rep. John McHugh (R-NY), Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), and Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-IL) to create a bill for postal reform. To find out more about the MPRC, you can e-mail Bradley at firstname.lastname@example.org.